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Click here for an adaptation of Chapter Five, Moments of Grace
published in EarthLines Magazine

 

What they say about In Search of Grace

New reader review from David Burke in Portland (March 2019)

The biggest takeaway for me after reading Peter Reason’s book, “In search of grace – An ecological pilgrimage,” is how to cope personally with the grief of an increasingly unhinged world around us. Not least, nature’s rapid ruin.

The book chronicles the author’s mostly solo sailing odyssey around the western coastlines of Ireland and Scotland, yet his observations and wonderfully coherent contemplations on our interconnectedness with nature are relevant in any context. I often think of the book when I venture into nearby snowy forests on cross-country skis. We’re capable of turning virtually any outing into an ecological and/or spiritual pilgrimage if we want.

For me, the most profound revelation in the book takes place in the Golden Gallery atop St. Paul’s Cathedral in London.

“It felt strangely appropriate that I should begin my pilgrimage here in the heart of London, at one of the centres of both the Christian Church and Mammon.

“All things evolved with the universe, including we humans, our culture and our technology. So too did all of this: this building, this city, all these people crowding into the gallery and all those I could scarcely see below me hurrying around, in their fancy clothes and make-up, with their smartphones and preoccupations. There is nothing else. All these sights of modern civilization are the universe experimenting with different ways of expressing itself. From this perspective all aspects of the human – the beautiful and the creative, the bizarre and the destructive – are aspects of a self-differentiating universe.”

Reflecting on the irony of experiencing such thoughts inside “a monument to the human-centred Enlightenment consciousness that I am pushing against”, the author reasons that: “Ecological wisdom will not come from separating the one from the other but from seeing how they belong together in intricate intimacy. We have to thoroughly understand the human project if we are to live as well as we might and allow the planet to live as well as it might.”

“In search of grace – An ecological pilgrimage” was a thoroughly inspirational read that I will carry with me for many years to come. Thank you, Peter!

 

Peter Reason tackles huge themes with clarity and intelligence. Through his own private pilgrimage he asks how a modern citizen can live on good terms with the rest of nature's glorious republic. And what can we do to honour the four billion year old miracle that has given us the gift of life? This is an important and challenging work.
Mark Cocker, author of Crow Country and Claxton: Field Notes from a Small Planet

Peter Reason puts to sea, to navigate the islands of the west – Ireland and Scotland – in a purposeful wandering. This man in a boat is on an ecological pilgrimage and apart from having the skills and temperament to avoid capsize and deadly rocks, to weather storms and just not drown in a wild ocean that has us landlubbers shaking in our boots, there is work to do. How do you explore a deeper connection with the wild, the more-than-human world? How can a spiritual response to Nature support the pragmatic prevention of those destructive impulses that are causing such a dreadful state of affairs in the natural world? How do you articulate an experience of those unexpected and spontaneous sacred moments? This account from the liminal edge between these notions goes much further than anyone contemplating a sightseeing voyage would dare. And grace? Well, I have a feeling there’s more to the little yacht Coral, swinging gently at anchor waiting for the wind to fill her sails, than words can say.
Paul Evans, author of Field Notes from the Edge: Journeys through Britain’s Secret Wilderness

In Search of Grace is a remarkable achievement. On one level it records an impressive adventure – a single-handed sail up the west coast of Ireland and through Scotland’s Western Isles. Peter Reason records with great clarity the journey’s perils and joys. But all the while he is thinking, contemplating the plight of the planet and his own involvement in its ecology, drawing on a lifetime’s reading. The result is a thrilling book – immediate, wide-ranging and profound.
Philip Marsden, author of The Levelling Sea and Rising Ground.

In an age of ecological crisis, perhaps humanity itself needs a pilgrimage. Perhaps we need to seek out the truth of who we are and what we have done, and leave a space for some kind of transformative grace to enter. Peter Reason’s journey may show some of us the way. His book is both brave and necessary.
Paul Kingsnorth, author of The Wake and Beast

In his years at the University of Bath, Peter Reason rose to prominance as a brave pioneer of Action Research--a participative approach to scholarly and whole life inquiry, that refuted narrow reductionism. Now, in this meditatively written and rich interwoven account, he takes his inquiry futher. Sailing his boat around the seas of Celtic lands, he gains insights into these our troubled times, as glimpsed through the cracks of a deeper grace belonging to this planet Earth.
Alastair McIntosh, author of Poacher's Pilgrimage: An Island Journey

I want to say how much I’ve enjoyed reading In Search of Grace. It’s both a tale of a remarkable journey about our archipelago and a glorious reminder of the ways in which an ecological sensibility can be brought into our everyday lives. You’ve managed to convey something of the wonder and awe that we can have when we head out on grand adventures and how we might bring that wonder back into our more mundane daily existence. Really rather an essential aspect to living well.
James Canton, Leader of the Wild Writing MA at the University of Essex, author of Ancient Wonderings: Journeys into Prehistoric Britain

How do we create a new healing relationship between the human and the more than human world and discover a new sense of what it means to be a responsible species? These are urgent questions for us all, if we going to learn how to change from destroying the planet to restoring it. Peter Reason is a poetic story-teller, a courageous pilgrim, a questioning philosopher and an explorer of the emergent, who beautifully and generously shares his ‘moments of grace’ at home and at sea, in ways that can illumine our own journeys towards urgently needed new ways of thinking and being.
Peter Hawkins, author of Leadership Team Coaching.

Review by Stephen Woolaston on GreenSpirit website

Review of In Search of Grace and Poacher's Pilgrimage by Alastair McIntosh by David Lorimer on Scientific and Medical Network Newsletter here

What wondrous memories, to this old ex-mariner, you evoke with your truly glorious essay. And what a fabulous conjunction of pilgrimage, ecological appreciation and sailing you convey. Condemned by a degraded skeleton to no longer be able to mess about in boats, I have to date relied on reflections of my own voyages past to still my perennially racing now landlocked mind. But your essay greatly augments all that I recall from my own reflections while transporting me to waters unknown, sights unseen and an ecological odyssey unexperienced.
Richard Bawden, Emeritus Professor, Western Sydney University.

 

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